Is Jimmy Connors actually underrated?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by pc1, Oct 9, 2011.

  1. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I've been watching some old videos of Jimmy Connors recently and it amazes me even now how purely he hits the ball, how beautiful his preparation was and the power, consistency and depth of his shots.

    In a way I often think Connors is very underrated. The man won 140 plus tournaments in his career and many majors. That's more total tournaments won than Nadal, Federer and Djokovic combined to put it in perspective. And yes I know Connors "officially" won 109 tournaments in his career but the ATP doesn't count many WCT tournaments and other tournaments he won in his career. He played at a very strong level up to a very late age in tennis. He is arguably the best pure ball striker in the history of tennis with super mobility and he is also arguably the greatest service returner in the history of tennis. He also had arguably the greatest backhand in history.

    One of the reasons I think he is underrated is his relatively small majors total considering how great he was. One of the reasons is that I believe some of the majors were not as important as it is considered today. He didn't played the Australian and the French for many of his prime years but he won tournaments that essentially were majors like the WCT championship and the Year End Masters tournament.

    Connors won about 82% of his matches for his career. That's incredible considering how many years he played past his best years. He was number one in the world for five years in a row plus he was top ten in the world from 1973 to 1978. He won over 90% of his matches over a five year span and if you don't think that's impressive, Pete Sampras never won 90% of his matches in any ONE year.

    Connors also played in an extremely competitive time, against older legends like Rosewall, Newcombe, Ashe, Smith and Nastase. He played younger legends like Borg, McEnroe, Lendl, Cash, Edberg, Wilander, Agassi and even Sampras.

    Do I think Connors is the greatest ever? No I do not but he is one of the few who has a record that you can at least argue reasonably that he is the greatest ever.

    Please discuss.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2011
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  2. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    Connors was always my favorite player growing up. If it wasn't for the fact that Borg completely dominated him after 1976, Connors would have been better respected in tennis history. Look at what happened right after Borg retired. His competitveness and the way he hit the ball with such precision are this trademarks. Most of us cannot emulate his unorthodox straight flat style, but certain fundamentals of the game like footwork, concentration, bending your knees, court sense and anticipation are all things we can learn from him.

    Still, I would have to put him behind Borg and McEnroe among his contemporaries. It's hard to really put him among the all time greats when there were 2 players who were better during his time. It's unfortunate.
     
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  3. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Yes, sometimes it seems that he is underrated - in an age, where only the majors count. Like Mac, Borg or Lendl, Connors has great numbers in overall titles, win-lost -percentages, years at the top, and like them his major count is relatively small, compared with those overall numbers. As pc 1 wrote, in those early open years the whole tour counted, not only the majors segment. Maybe also his negative head-to-head records against Borg, Mac and Lendl, which are to be studied very closely, have a negative effect on his standing.
    In open era Connors is by far the most consistent performer over the longest stretch, in history only Tilden, Rosewall and maybe Gonzalez have comparable careers. In a scientific study this year (with emphasis on top matches played), Connors was indeed named the greatest of the open era. Ashe called him the most significant player of all times. Like nobody else, he changed the perception of tennis as a popular sport in the Tennis Boom years.
     
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  4. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    Negative head-to-head against Lendl? Lifetime yes, but I would argue that when Connors was in him prime he dominated Lendl, especially when it counted. Connors did stay around a bit longer than he had to, but that's part of his trademark; his love for the game.
     
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  5. falkenburg

    falkenburg Banned

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    I saw him play, and that year in '74 where he won 3 Slams, wasn't allowed to play the French, and twice slaughtered Rosewall in winning two of them, was something to see; on the other hand, he was victim to two of the sport's greatest upsets, at Wimbledon '75 vs Ashe (who was president of the organization that he, Connors, had sued, so there were other factors besides "only" winning a Wimbledon final), and a few months later to Orantes (for the latter's one and only Slam) in one of the dumbest losses ever-plus, he was dominated by two other players, Borg, and Lendl, so I think he was only slightly underrated, if he was underrated at all.
     
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  6. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    I wrote, that those head to head are to be studied closely. Age is a factor, Mac and Lendl were younger than Connors, and got the better of him, when he was declining. In big matches, he won over Lendl on Lendl's best surface at the USO 82 and 83. With Mac he was quite on par if not shlightly better until 1984. In his historical standing, i would rate him behind Borg, but a fraction ahead of Mac and Lendl. It can be also argued, that he would have won 7 USOs, if hard courts would have been implemented earlier.
     
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  7. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Not strictly true. Borg completely owned Connors after 1978, but between 1976-1978, it was very even. Connors owned Borg between 1974-1976. In 1982, however, when Borg was off the tour, Connors' game did look improved, particularly the serve.

    I can't put McEnroe ahead of Connors at all. Connors has more majors (8 to 7), and in 3 different slam tournaments, and he has big wins over all his biggest rivals on the biggest stages. Connors also has a longevity at and near the top level that is unprecedented in open era tennis. Borg, and even McEnroe, were burned out while Connors' enthusiasm was as strong as ever going into his 40s.
     
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  8. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    Connors did have a couple of sloppy finals in '75, but I think history shows he recovered from that, and that's what really counts in my book. Ashe also beat a young Borg in that same Wimbledon, in which a commentator said he will never be able to play on grass. Also, give Connors some credit for beating Borg on clay in the '75 US Open and also in the '76 Final. Borg was young, but clay was his best surface. When was the last time an American could beat the world's best clay court player on clay? Orantes beat Vilas in the other semifinal, which was no small task. Orantes was a one hit wonder, so I would chalk up his win as a fluke.
     
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  9. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    You raised some good points. Connors did have a couple key wins against Borg before '78 (US Open in particular), and he seemed to edge ever closer to Borg before Borg retired. Still I gotta put Borg ahead because of his overall record and total domination after '78.

    McEnroe's longevity was not as good, and you do have a point. My heart was always for Connors because I admired his tenacity. The reason I put McEnroe ahead is simply because if McEnroe was playing his A-game, I just can't imagine Connors beating him no matter where they played or how well Connors was playing. Mac was just that good.
     
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  10. falkenburg

    falkenburg Banned

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    It can be strongly argued that the results of the '80 Olympic hockey semifinals, the '76 NCAA basketball final, and the Patriots-Giants Superbowl were all flukes as well; I doubt that's much solace to the USSR team, the Georgetown Hoyas, and the New England Patriots, respectively, and the loss to Orantes, in particular, is a black mark on Jimbo's record and one of the reasons I referred to it as "one of the dumbest losses ever." Remember, back then they played men's semi, women's final, men's semi, so, in addition to being a far superior player, Jimbo had a large rest advantage. It became even larger when Vilas played late into the night, by virtue of the fact that he dug out of a 2 sets to 1, 5-0 forty love hole to win, on clay, against Vilas. He then had plumbing problems in his hotel room and reportedly didn't get to sleep until around 3am. Connors couldn't have known about the hotel problems, of course, but should have realized that trying to blast somebody off the court on clay (and thus making countless unforced errors) when they weren't likely to have a lot of gas in the tank was NOT in his best interests. He did nothing to adjust when it quickly became obvious that this wasn't going to work, and lost in straight sets. Ugh. On the other hand, I forgot to give him props for the '91 US Open result. In an age where players approaching 30 are talked about like they're in free fall, it was a helluva result to reach the semifinals at 39. I can still see that point against Haarhus(sic?), throwing up those 3 lobs, each one seemingly higher than the one before, when suddenly, like Ali started to tell George Foreman in the latter stages of their rope-a-dope fight, "Now it's MY turn!" ending with a running winner on the down the line pass, followed by whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Good stuff.
     
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  11. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Very well thought out. Objectively I would also rank Connors ahead of McEnroe and Lendl, although Lendl is I believe a bit closer. I don't see how people can rank McEnroe ahead of Connors if you look objectively at the career record. Even the best years of Connors and McEnroe are close. Connors in 1974 and McEnroe in 1984 both had incredible records and similar percentages with Connors at 99-4 and McEnroe at 82-3.
     
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  12. Ramon

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    Possibly, but then again, Connors would not have the distinction of being the only player to win the US Open on 3 different surfaces. He is extremely proud of that, and that's one of the truly big accomplishments that separated him from the rest of the field.
     
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  13. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    My take on it is that the difference between Connors and the top 5 all time GOATs was his serve. He had every other shot, arguably the best backhand ever, was doggedly competitive, was a great natural athlete, and was lucky to be as healthy as he was. If his serve was a weapon, like Federer, Sampras, Gonzales, Borg or even Laver, then, IMO, he would have been regarded in that tier. In any event, once again, IMO, he's still a top 10 all time great along with Lendl and Mac. It's hard to think of a top ten GOAT as underrated.
     
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  14. bigmatt

    bigmatt Rookie

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    Whether Connors is the greatest or not, he did as much, or more, to popularize tennis than anyone.
    I saw him play live numerous times in the 70s, and his return was awesome. His footwork is still as good as I've ever seen, and his intensity up close was almost scary.
    Got to string for him at a tournament in 87, and really enjoyed his company.
     
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  15. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Funny thing is that if we examine the Connors' record against some so called GOATs, we could easily find that Connors has a superior record to some of them or at worst Connors has a superior record to many of them in at least several categories.
     
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  16. pc1

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    That's is obviously a fantastic accomplishment by Connors. The Forest Hills grass was just so bad, with awfuls bounces if it bounced at all and yet Connors' great groundstrokes enabled him to win there. The har tru was much slower and yet he defeated great clay players like Borg, Orantes, Vilas and Gerulaitis over the years he played there on that surface.
     
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  17. BTURNER

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    I agree that Mac very best tennis, surpassed Connors, but day in day out, for their careers, Connors is better and when i look at champions, I look at their best days and their worst and everything in between. Connors is right behind Borg and equal to Lendl better than Mac or Wilander.
     
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  18. Rubens

    Rubens Semi-Pro

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    Yes, he is underrated, especially when people compare him to Agassi and say that they're in the same tier. I'm an Agassi fan, but Connors is easily top 5, not Agassi.
     
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  19. Ramon

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    I agree he's definitely a level above Agassi. Maybe if Agassi took the game more seriously when he was younger, things would have been different. It's a sharp contrast when you compare the "image is everything" guy to the guy whose name conjures up words like "competitiveness", "determination", and "killer instinct".
     
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  20. Ramon

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    That's sounds like a reasonable analysis. You do have to give Connors credit for longevity, and Mac has to be penalized for retiring so early because of his personal life. It's just so hard to get over the paradigm from the late 70's and early 80's that Connors was always a solid #3.

    I would personally rank Connors above Lendl. Lendl never won a major on grass, and Connors won majors on all 3 surfaces. Lendl only started beating Connors when Connors was on the decline. When they were both good, and it counted, Connors came out on top.
     
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  21. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I agree with every sentence. I think McEnroe's best was among the greatest of all time and on a subjective viewpoint, better than Connors in my opinion but not by a huge margin. Even in 1984 when McEnroe was the heavy favorite over Connors in the US Open semi, Connors almost pulled off a major upset and he was a bit past his prime.

    I can't see why some view Agassi as superior to Connors. You look at the record and it's not remotely close. Connors won over 140 tournaments, Agassi 60. Connors won eight majors and Agassi did also. Connors won at a winning percentage of 81.7% and Agassi at 76.05%. But Connors's winning percentage would have been higher if he retired a few years earlier. Agassi won one Year End Masters and Connors won one but Connors also won two WCT championships which were essentially majors also.

    When you compare their best years Connors comes up far ahead also.

    To repeat myself, it's not close when you see the record of both and compare. Connors won more than double the tournaments Agassi won. Yes they are similar in that both are among the greatest groundstrokers ever and among the greatest service returners ever but Connors was faster, had better footwork, a better volley, was better defensively in my opinion.
     
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  22. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    I think some see Agassi as part of the beginning of modern tennis, while Connors was in a sort of "golden" era with great players but a very different style.

    I think that if Connors was born in the modern era, he would have played more like Djokovic, but with a slower serve and even more aggressiveness. He would be great, but perhaps not as much fun to watch. Back in the days of wooden racquets and the T-2000, there was more variety in the game. It was so much fun to see Connors play cat-and-mouse with the other top players. Yes, he had hard flat groundstrokes but he mixed it up like no other player does today. He hit occassional slices and drop shots. He had the best lob in the game and he didn't just use it to go over his opponent's head, he used it when he was out of position or occassionally to just throw off the opponent and sneak into the net when his opponent wasn't looking. Nowadays, it's so much easier for a great player to just counterpunch when he's out of position and go for an outright winner.
     
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  23. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I suppose that's as good a reason as any for thinking Agassi's superior to Connors. I think another reason is that when you see a player in the present playing great tennis, it's more vivid to the person watching whether it's a former player or the weekend hacker. The player of the present almost always seems to be more impressive to most. And of course Agassi is pretty impressive when he is playing well.
     
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  24. big ted

    big ted Hall of Fame

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    some view agassi as better then connors because he won all 4 gs tournaments and pros like mcenroe have said that agassis return of serve was probably better then connors. he also won a gold medal so he basically won every major event at least once. even lendl said once he thought agassis career was better then his because he won all the gs tournaments..
     
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  25. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    As we've often discussed PC1, rating great players is necessarily a very subjective exercise. In addition, there are "objective" measures that are not exactly objective when you really dig deeper and try the analysis of comparing player X to player Y. Examples are Masters titles (what about pre-1990?), # weeks at number 1 (ranking system has changed through the years), number of majors won (AO factor, pre-1969, surface changes). So, subjectivity is necessarily a huge factor when comparing players from different era. Yet, bias towards the current or more recent player definitely plays a role in my opinion. I do think Connors is definitely top 10 all time, and basically just outside that top tier of all time greats (perhaps just outside the top 5 or so). At his best, he would be a threat to any player on fast surfaces and he could hold his own on clay as well. I do think his serve, as LH noted did really hurt him as he could not get any "free" points easily. Once Borg came on the scene, that stole some of his thunder, but then here came McEnroe. That's when the tennis world was just rocking, with Borg, McEnroe, Connors, Lendl, Vilas, and Gerulaitis in the top 10. The Borg-McEnroe rivalry quickly consumed tennis watchers and that really hurt Connors in terms of public perceptions. Connors did play at a time when there were two other legendary players at the top. That has made a huge difference I think. There was such depth at the top during the late 1970's-early 1980's and I think that's a big reason for the tendency to underrate or overlook Connors to some degree. Connors was unquestionably one of the most important players to ever pick up a tennis racquet and also one of the greatest ever. McEnroe, though Connors was his nemesis, had a great deal of respect for Connors which grew through the years. Borg said of Connors:


    [​IMG]
     
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  26. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    A victory at RG would only have proved Connors was able to win against the big boys at a major on clay. To be honest he proved that at the Open held on clay, and arguably it was a more prestegous title than RG would have been back then. In other words Connors uniquely proved successful in effect doing much the same thing as Agassi, thanks to the multiple surface change at the open. to those who would quibble that har-tru clay plays different than red, I would respond that Australian grass played quite different than Wimbledon. Agassi did not win the aussie on grass.
     
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  27. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Connors' best chance of winning the French Open was between 1974-1978. In 1974, he was banned from the French Open for deciding to play World Team Tennis that year, and failed to overturn this ruling in a lawsuit against the FTF. From 1975-1978, as far as I can see, Connors stayed away from Roland Garros in a fit of pique.
     
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  28. Timbo's hopeless slice

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    Hmm, I have to question who he had to beat? Laver was an old man by the time Connors came along, likewise Rosewall.

    People speak of a weak era. mid 70s tennis pretty much defines the concept!

    And, every time a good player came along, (Borg, McEnroe, Lendl, Wilander, Agassi etc) Jimmy was relegated to an also ran.
    Sure, he won a few, but he lost a lot more.

    As for the comparison to Agassi, well, have a look at this. Jimmy was 35, in good health (hell, LOOK at him!) and had won a tournament only weeks before.
    Agassi was just 18 and still a long way short of what he would become.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXkochDE_qM&feature=related

    Watch it, check out the way Connors behaves, and the score, and the game, and consider your comments.

    Punk that indeed...
     
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  29. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Ever heard the saying that you can only beat who is in front of you?

    He has big wins over Borg, McEnroe and Lendl. By the time Wilander and Agassi were beating him, he was in his mid 30s.

    Borg dominated Connors between 1979-1981, but Borg was then no longer on the tour full-time after the end of 1981, whereas Connors' form was much improved in 1982. Connors had winning head-to-heads against McEnroe and Lendl into his early 30s.

    Connors had just turned 36, and his tournament win in Washington was his first in almost 4 years. Despite winning 2 tournaments in 1988 and none at all in 1985, 1986 and 1987, Connors' overall form definitely declined in 1988, considerably.

    An Agassi many years short of his best, but full of youth and enthusiasm, and a Connors many years past his best, but determined to fight on and on. Youth won. Their match the following year at the same tournament was a 5-setter that Agassi won.
     
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  30. Timbo's hopeless slice

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    hmmm

    I respect your point of view, but I don't really agree. I have a better winning % in open tournaments than Jimmy, because there isn't anyone any good playing in my area at the moment. But I can only beat who is in front of me, does that make me better than Connors? Of course not, but you see what I mean?

    I do admire Jimmy's longevity, and even his tennis, but I don't think he can be fairly compared to Agassi, who really did play a totally different style of game, despite what some people might think.

    Agassi won 5 slams in his 30s...

    I never cared for Connor's personality as displayed in public and on the court, but I never met the guy so who knows what he is like in private?

    So no, I think he is judged fairly by most as one of the greats, but not a contender for GOAT.
     
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  31. Rubens

    Rubens Semi-Pro

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    Ok, while I'd agree that it's easier to dominate a somewhat weaker field, I don't think you can use that to take much away from his status. You cannot say that he would'nt have dominated a stronger field during his best years. It'd be like those people who say that Sampras>Fed simply because Sampras faced a tougher field.

    As for Borg, McEnroe, Lendl, Wilander, Agassi, we're talking about players who are respectively 4, 7, 8, 12, and 18(!) years younger... So, other than Borg, they were significantly younger.

    All this to say that we have to look at the way they played the game, when they won and when they lost, and try to see which player would have done better in the same circumstances. Very subjective, unfortunately, but still more likely to be accurate than looking at their respective fields,IMO.
     
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  32. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    Hate to be blunt, but I think bringing up Connors vs Agassi is outrageous. You are talking about a 17/18 year difference. Let's talk about a comparable player at that level who played them both when they were good, Lendl. When Lendl played an 18 year old Agassi, Ashe compared it to Tyson vs Spinks. It was that bad! I don't think Agassi ever completely recovered from that until Lendl got old. When Lendl came on the scene Jimbo took him to school until he got older. BTW, this was during years when Lendl had wins over Borg and McEnroe.
     
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  33. Wilander Fan

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    He had a great game but he was apparently vulnerable to junk ballers. I remember Lendl snapped a losing streak against him by feeding spinny junk to Connor's backhand and then proceeded to dominate Connors using that tactic.
     
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  34. Rubens

    Rubens Semi-Pro

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    Ah, the bunting incident, lol.
     
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  35. big ted

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    if youre comparing connors to agassi, i think agassi had the better game and more weapons but connors mental game was 100x better then agassis and if they played each other in their primes, connors would win because of that. in general, the bigger the occasion the more agassi got nervous and connors was completely the opposite.
     
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  36. ahuimanu

    ahuimanu Rookie

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    JC's exceptional year in 74' got me intrigued with the game of tennis as a kid. His competitiveness was on par with the best athletes of that time. His street fighter approach made tennis appealing to the masses. Not a physical specimen by any stretch, I think he was vastly underrated as an athlete, especially his quickness/reaction off the ground (first/second step to the ball...eg 10 yd dash). I once heard Nick Bollettieri say at a clinic as a player Connors had a below average forehand, outstanding backhand and is the greatest competitor in tennis history... Interesting :)
     
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  37. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    He was somewhat vulnerable to junk ballers but it got a lot worst when he got older. Lendl said when Jimmy got older that he could no longer attack on shots that Lendl would have expected him to attack in the past. He was defensively on those shots.

    A lot of players tried junk against Connors during his best years but few were successful. Ashe in the Wimbledon final is often used as the best example but I think the main cause of Connors' easy defeat was that Connors was injured. Maybe Connors would have lost anyway but I think it would have been closer.
     
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  38. PrinceMoron

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    Had the pleasure of standing next to Connors on court at Benson & Hedges tournament in London. He was hitting with S Glickstein, who was hitting stupid spin and Connors just hit everyball back absolutely clean and flat. It looked like the ball was on a bit of elastic.
     
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  39. Timbo's hopeless slice

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    I was actually responding to pc-1 who brought up Agassi. The link I posted was intended to highlight the differences in their games as much as the result of that particular match. It is also significant in that Agassi remains calm and murders Connors under incredible pressure as Jimmy showboats, delays, plays the crowd and generally carries on as much as possible...

    Also, in respect to the age thing, as I pointed out, Connors never won a major after he turned 30, Agassi won 5...
     
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  40. Ramon

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    I liked Agassi, especially as he got older, but his career record can't compare to Jimbo's. You could say Agassi had more top players to deal with, but then again most of those players only had a few great years (Sampras being a notable exception).

    Jimbo was consistently in the top 3 from the mid-70's to early 80's and #1 or #2 for at least half those years. Playing your guts out for all those years has to take a huge toll on your body. Borg obviously couldn't do it for as long, and neither could any other top player from Connors' generation.

    As we all know, Agassi did not take tennis as seriously as he should have for the majority of his career. So for years, Agassi had been eating donuts, doing commercials, dating celebrities (my favorite being Barbara Streisand...hahaha), and bragging about how he doesn't need to practice and train a whole lot to play tennis. So then, all of a sudden, he goes thru a mid-life realization that he wasted his best years and decides to take his sport seriously for a change. It's great that he had a few great years in his 30's, but I wouldn't say his longevity was greater than Jimbo's.
     
    #40
  41. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Connors won 2 majors in his 30s. He won the 1982 US Open when he was 30 and the 1983 US Open when he was 31.
     
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  42. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Mustard took care of the first part, I'll take the 2nd.

    Agassi won 2 majors after turning 30, not 5. So he & Connors are tied in that stat.

    but I'm guessing you already knew that.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2011
    #42
  43. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Pretty impressive wins also, both over Ivan Lendl, who was the favorite to beat Connors in both finals. I think 1983 was his last year at top level. By that I mean that I felt he was a threat to win a major and beat the top players. To my mind I felt there was a clear decline in 1984 despite the fact he beat Lendl on grass I believe and reached the final of Wimbledon. And despite the fact he battled McEnroe to five sets in the US Open semi in 1984.

    I notice some said Agassi has more weapons than Connors. I am just curious where. Both had decent serves but nothing out of the ordinary but Agassi could hit his serve harder. Both could hurt his opponents with both forehand and backhand. I don't particularly think Agassi's volley was a real weapon but I do think Connors' volley was.

    Defensively and mobility wise there is no comparison. Connors wins out here easily.

    I do think Agassi's forehand was a bit steadier than Connors but both were super solid shots.
     
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  44. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    McEnroe prevented Connors winning up to 3 majors in 1984, and another WCT Dallas title. Connors still had Lendl's number when it mattered most at that point. I honestly think Connors was playing almost as well in 1984 as he had been the previous 2 years. McEnroe just raised his level to its absolute peak and was a thorn in Connors' side all year, turning round the head-to-head.
     
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  45. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Mac ahead of Connors? No, not in term of career accomplishments...raw skill and talent, maybe. Jimmy played much longer and overall, stayed at a much higher level (wins, rankings, etc.). At 35yrs old, when Mac was on his "bender", Jimmy was the top ranked US player in 1987. And, he got a few more wins over Mac from '87 to '89. So, I have a hard time ranking Mac in front of him.
     
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  46. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    I would also agree w/this; Jimmy's wins over Ivan in 82/83 were pretty significant. Jimmy was battling for the #2 slot all the way thru 1984 when he was 32yrs old. He was playing that well. Mac ruled '84 (I think Jimmy would've won 1/2 slams that year, frankly) and from '85 on, Lendl pretty much hit top gear. But, none of this should diminish what Connors accomplished over his career; he had significant, big wins over all of the top guys of the day, which is easy to overlook....Borg (on clay), Mac (on grass), Ivan (hard)...none of these guys were patsies.
     
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  47. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Hard to believe that Connors could have beaten Lendl at the French. To do it at the USO, his favorite surface, his favorite event, where he could work the crowd, is one thing. But on red clay, his weakest surface? As strong as Lendl was on clay? And Lendl by then was working harder than ever; he was already a better player than in '82 and '83.

    Just can't see Jimmy Connors finally winning the French in 1984. At the age of 31. After never having made the final and routinely losing in the semis and quarters.

    Jimmy lost in straights to Mac at the '84 French, which tells you something about his level of play. He lost in straights to the losing finalist. At Wimbledon, where he was much stronger, and Lendl was at his weakest, he got pushed by Lendl to one-set-all and a close third set. If they had met at the French I can't even see the match getting close. Lendl would have a good chance of beating him in straights -- which is precisely what he did a year later (6-2, 6-3, 6-1).
     
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  48. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    You can make a lot of comparisons between Jimmy and Andre; Andre too, wound up playing for a very long time, also at a very high level. I think some feel he is superior because of his RG win, which definitely was a coup for him. But, I'll take Jimmy's win over Bjorn at the '76 USO on green clay as the superior accomplishment any day.

    There are a lot of similarities in their games as well...but overall, it's hard to make the case that Andre is superior. Even in his late 30's, Jimmy could hold his own against a young Andre. And, when you look at all the wins, the opponents and the venues, plus what he achieved in the rankings, it's very hard to even put them in the same tier.
     
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  49. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    You could be right, Krosero, but we all know about Lendl's suspect mentality on the biggest stages before the 1985 US Open, and against Connors in particular. Connors beat Lendl in 2 US Open finals and a Wimbledon semi final despite having been hammered by Lendl in smaller tournaments before all 3 of those meetings.
     
    #49
  50. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    As I understand it, Jimmy did not play the European "red clay" events for most of his career, no? When you look at his early wins, there are quite a few on the US green clay, some over the top clay court players of the day. So, he could play well on this surface, even if it was not his best.
     
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